Many people consider working on their vehicle to be overwhelming and potentially very expensive. However, there are quite a few projects you can tackle on your own, worry-free, with very little experience or expertise. In most cases, watching a YouTube tutorial video is more than enough to figure out these DIY maintenance jobs. We’ve made a list of 8 auto projects you can handle in your own garage. If you enjoy working on these projects, consider branching out to other tasks too! You’ll be a full-on gearhead in no time!
8. Replace Wiper Blades
We’ll start with the easiest first: replacing your wiper blades. All you should need are the two new blades, which can be found at your local auto parts store. Be sure to ask the clerk which blades will fit your vehicle though, because they can be slightly different. Alternatively, some stores will keep a book or electronic index near the wiper blades so that you can look up the sizes yourself. You don’t even have to replace both blades at the same time. In fact, if one of them is squeaking, you can spray silicone lubricant on it to extend its life. Don’t forget to replace your rear wiper too, if you have one.
7. Change Oil
While it’s often seen as a mark of a DIY mechanic, changing your oil isn’t as difficult as you might think. You’ll need enough quarts of oil to replace what you drain out (see owner’s manual), the proper oil filter, a funnel, a roll of paper towels, and a drain pan. You’ll also need to remove the oil pan drain plug and potentially replace it if it is leaking.
One word of warning though — most jurisdictions have rules about how to properly dispose of the used oil. Make sure you research how to get rid of it in an environmentally friendly way, as opposed to just dumping it down a sewer grate. Most places have some sort of “Hazardous Waste” center you can bring it to.
6. Replace Engine and Cabin Air Filters
Much like replacing your wiper blades, removing and replacing your cabin and engine air filters is an easy job once you know what you’re doing. Your engine air filter is the easier of the two to replace since you only need to remove the top of the air box to locate it.
Replacing your cabin air filter may take a screwdriver, but you’ll breathe easier knowing the air flowing through the engine and into the car is clean. Again, make sure you buy the right type/size of filter for your model, and check the web for a quick tutorial of how to access your cabin filter. This is a 10 minute job, at most.
5. Remove Unwanted Stickers
Vehicle maintenance isn’t confined to the engine bay. If you’re looking for a way to spruce up your vehicle, try removing stickers from your windows and rear bumper. They could be old bumper stickers, faded stick families, or even unwanted dealer decals. Your car looks better without them, trust us.
Stickers stuck to your windows are easy to razor blade off, as long as you can reach the glass with the blade. Just use glass cleaner afterwards to finish the job. For stickers on your bumper, you’ll likely need a steamer or heat gun and adhesive remover—and lots and lots of patience. Never take a razor blade to your paint.
4. Flush Radiator
Flushing your own radiator may seem like a hefty job, but in reality it’s nothing more than a fancy oil change. Okay, so you will need to make sure your coolant system is free of air bubbles, but once you’ve mastered that technique, you’ll be flushing away with ease. Put replacement coolant, a drain bin, and potentially replacement coolant hoses on your shopping list and you should be set. Hose clamps could come in handy as well.
Check your owner’s manual to make sure you purchase the right coolant because mixture ratios mean the difference between a cool engine and a massive repair bill. Once again, please dispose of the old coolant properly.
3. Replace Bulbs
That telltale staccato flash of light coming from your turn signal means your bulbs are out. Replacing them can be easier than you think, though. Simply remove the burnt out bulb to figure out which type of replacement bulb to buy. You may need a screwdriver or two to get to the bulb itself, underneath the lamp cover. Same goes for headlights or taillights. YouTube is really your friend for this, if you can’t figure out how the cover comes off.
Other than that, it’s simply disassemble, replace, and then reassemble. However, if you do need to replace a bulb in the cabin, chances are the disassembly process might be longer. Check online tutorials for your specific vehicle for shortcuts and helpful tips.
2. Headlight Restoration
The majority of the maintenance projects we’ve included in this list also help keep you and your passengers safe. Restoring clarity to your headlights is definitely one of them. Yellowed headlights are a sign of aged plastic that clouds precious light from illuminating your way.
Whether you use the old toothpaste trick or buy a restoration kit, clearing up your headlights will both improve the overall look of your car and help you see better as well. If your headlight and taillight covers are in really bad shape, you could also purchase full replacements and swap in brand new ones. Either way, it’s a win-win for everyone.
1. Rotate Tires and Check Air Pressure
Checking the pressure in your tires is probably not something you put on your weekly to-do list. That’s okay, because there are quite a few tire shops that offer a free air check service and will even rotate your tires for free if you’ve purchase a set from them.
However, knowing how to check tire pressure puts you on the right path to becoming boss over your vehicle. To check your air pressure, invest in a tire gauge of your choice. Airing them up either means a visit to the nearest gas station or purchasing an air compressor. Rotating your tires only requires a couple of jacks (and jackstands), and a tire/torque wrench.
Practice Makes Better
Now that you know these eight tasks you can easily perform on your own vehicle, which ones will you tackle first? We hope that this article has helped you find the confidence to take on simple vehicle maintenance jobs by giving you the tools and knowledge needed to achieve success. You’ll feel a renewed pride in your vehicle ownership, and you’ll probably save hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars your the lifespan of your car.